Tuesday, 1 March 2016

RACE 3 - Huddersfield 10k

This was a good day, cloudy and cool with the occasional burst of sunlight. I arrived on site with plenty of time to spare, so having not run the course before I decided to drive it - I'm glad I did as that let me strategise the race, gauge how much recovery time I might have between hills and see what the finish was going to be like.

On my return I registered, picked up a competitors t-shirt and pinned the race number to my Greenfield Greyhounds running vest. My wife and daughter, mum and dad all came to see me off and welcome me back at the end - Niamh had made a big poster saying "Run Dad Run", which was great to see!

There were 572 runners in total, all eager at the start line. The event was chip timed - a chip stuck to the running number registers as we run over special mats. A gun was fired to start the race officially at 11am, meaning everyone had two times recorded - one from the gun to the finish chip time and another from starting chip time to finishing chip time. My gun time was 56m 21s and my chip time was 56m 2s, so it took me 19 seconds just to cross the start line (and I was near the front).

The race began with a long hill climb, rising 100m over 3km. On a public main road, the runners filled the pavement and half the road, holding up traffic for the duration. There were pockets of crowds cheering us on from outside houses and shops all through the race, which was great. After the rise was crested, a good recovery downhill eventually took us off onto side roads and a steep descent that thinned out the pack. Approaching the 5km watering station meant running up the second hill, a short steep rise of around 50m.

That hill was an effort, but I felt ok and carried on without a water break. A nice recovery straight, a small switchback and another downhill. Hill three was steep and long, at around 60m climb over only 1km, this had quite a few runners struggling, but I managed to keep a rhythm going. I was pleased to have kept running to that point and didn't want to disappoint myself or my Greyhounds by stopping now. A shout out from a fellow runner "Well done, Greenfield!" was great encouragement to get me to the top.

A long straight downhill for another kilometre or so was then necessary for recovery, which was now taking me several minutes to get back to pace. I was overtaken by a few runners on this section, but just happy to keep moving. It was a good view, with Castle Hill looming large in the near distance. The descent got steeper and steeper - these downhills were tricky as it felt too fast to let my legs just run away with themselves (didn't want to slip or land awkwardly at that speed), but it was also difficult to run slow (I was leaning back and trying to take smaller steps, but landing hard and very aware of not running efficiently).

A fourth and final hill climb was thankfully short-lived and we were back onto the main road heading back to the rugby club. Thinned out enough now that most runners were on the pavement, one or two abreast. I found myself having run with roughly the same pack of 15 or so runners for the last half an hour. This pack slowly started to increase pace, sensing the finish line only 2km away, so I naturally had to increase pace with them.

The rugby club approached, with its driveway being around 200m long (or so I guessed). I was recovered by now, feeling good and knew I was going to finish under 60 minutes, which was a great feeling (personal target met). What I hadn't figured out until that last stretch was that I wasn't too far off my finish time for last year's Manchester 10k (my first race and a flat race, 54m 26s) - that gave me incentive to push hard.

I turned into the driveway and decided I had enough energy to last the distance with an increased turn of speed. So I started to lengthen my stride and overtake runners, picking up pace more and more. I saw the main building block approach and the crowds lining the side of the driveway - somewhere in the middle of that I heard my family shouting encouragement, but daren't shift my focus. Guessing there was around 50-75m left to go, I moved up another gear into full on sprint, entered the finishing funnel, turned the corner, saw the finish mat and just ran hell for leather, giving it every bit of speed I could find. I crossed the finish line absolutely flying and having loved that final stretch!

Huddersfield 10k conquered! Almost £700 donated online, over £400 raised by my work colleagues on top of that and hopefully some corporate fund matching to put me over the halfway point in raising money! Next week I will introduce the next project to sponsor. A big thank you to everyone who has donated to date :)

NB You can see some pictures and a brief video of the start from the Huddersfield Examiner write-up

1 comment:

  1. What perfect conditions for the race, Matt. Sun shining on a crisp morning 'called' people to come and watch, support and cheer on hundreds of competitors. We waited in the comfort of the cafe with cups of hot chocolate and coffee! But what a finish...like a bullet whose trajectory was set for an explosive final burst!! Well done Matt, more funds in and some from overseas!! HORIZONS TEAM